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[Editorial] Defense Minister Needed for Military Discipline

[Editorial] Defense Minister Needed for Military Discipline

Posted June. 23, 2005 06:04,   


Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung on Wednesday offered to resign over Sunday’s shooting spree that claimed the lives of eight frontline soldiers. Considering the shock and ripple effects resulting from the shooting rampage, his resignation is a foregone conclusion. President Roh Moo-hyun said, “I will take time to decide whether to accept his resignation.” However, he was mistaken in not accepting the resignation immediately. He had to soothe the public anger by letting the minister step down immediately. Apologies to the general public or disciplines to commanders will not allay the public’s anger.

Given that the truth of the shooting has yet to be revealed, the minister cannot avoid responsibility for the incident. Even though five days have already passed, neither the motive nor the process behind the murders has yet to be found. There is a growing suspicion about minimizing and concealing its true scale. People are voicing their concern about the ongoing investigation, saying, “The military authorities are killing the dead soldiers again.” One cannot help but ask whether President Roh fully grasps the enormity of the incident.

The minister’s successor should be one who can set the national security value and the military discipline right. During his time, Minister Yoon pushed ahead with the civilization and the reformation of the military, but he was accused of being negligent in the most important duty— building a security posture and tightening military discipline. The incident followed the discovery of breaches in the wire border fences last October, a high-profile promotion scandal, and the forceful feeding of human manure in boot camps. These are attributable to slack military discipline.

The successor should be free from the “code of the authorities” or the personal connection with the president who will appoint the new minister. The new minister should not be one who is swayed by the current of the times and political influence nor disrupt the military discipline. The successor should be able to tighten the military discipline. The incoming minister should listen to the legitimate voice from the military and have the courage to reject unnecessary interference from the political circle. Only then will the military be well-disciplined and the public faith in the military restored. The president is urged to make the right decision.